Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, reflects on the role of women in polio eradication after her visit to Chad.

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With the polio vaccine, new-born children have a better chance of a healthy life © WHO/Chad

Therese and Léonie reminded me of this hard truth in a recent visit to a hospital in N’Djaména, Chad. One is a newborn girl and the other is a veteran of the campaign to eradicate a human disease for only the second time in history –polio-.

As a Gender Champion for Polio Eradication, I have committed to supporting the global initiative to eradicate polio and the women who work tirelessly to protect children from lifelong paralysis. …


This article is part of a series of explainers on vaccine development and distribution. Learn more about vaccines — from how they work and how they’re made to ensuring safety and equitable access — in WHO’s Vaccines Explained series.

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All viruses — including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 — evolve over time. When a virus replicates or makes copies of itself, it sometimes changes a little bit, which is normal for a virus. These changes are called “mutations”. A virus with one or more new mutations is referred to as a “variant” of the original virus.

What causes a virus to change to a new variant?

When a virus…


The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated global demand for oxygen and made the delivery of oxygen supplies more urgent. WHO is working in the most vulnerable countries to scale up oxygen supply.

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WHO staff Mohamed Ahmed Helal inspects boxes of oxygen concentrators bound for Yemen and Libya at a WHO warehouse in Dubai. © WHO / Natalie Naccache

Oxygen is an essential medicine used to care for patients at all levels of the healthcare system, including in surgery, trauma, heart failure, asthma, pneumonia and maternal and child care.

Pneumonia alone accounts for 800 000 deaths per year. It is estimated that 20–40% of these deaths could be prevented with the availability of oxygen therapy.


Travel with those giving and receiving vital health services on board the Saint Lukas medical train in the Kashtan Bogotol region of Siberia.

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The Saint Lukas medical train sits on the tracks in the Kashtan Bogotol region, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Siberia. © WHO / NOOR / Yuri Kozyrev

The WHO European Region includes some of the most remote locations on earth. The Saint Lukas medical train provides one solution to reaching such areas. Ten times a year, the train makes two-week journeys, stopping at about eight stations and covering 4000 kilometers of Krasnoyarsk and Khakassia in Siberia.


This article is part six in a series of explainers on vaccine development and distribution. Part one focused on how vaccines work to protect our bodies from disease-carrying germs. Part two focused on the ingredients in a vaccine and the three clinical trial phases. Part three focused on the steps from completing the clinical trial phases through to distribution. Part four focused on the different types of vaccines. Part five focused on fair and equitable distribution of vaccines. This article outlines the next part of the vaccine journey: how countries are getting ready for COVID-19 vaccines.

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Countries are beginning to…


In Thailand, there are more than 15 000 cases of poisoning each year. Ramathibodi Poison Center in Bangkok is on the frontline of the response.

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Medic Malivan Bantabtim rushes an antidote from the Ramathibodi Hospital by ambulance in Bangkok, Thailand. © WHO / Amanda Mustard

Globally, poisoning is an under-recognized and under-reported major public health concern. While the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all countries establish and strengthen poisons centres, fewer than half of WHO Member States have one.

Ramathibodi Poison Center in Bangkok, Thailand, is one example of how a poisons centre can positively impact the health system of not only a country but an entire region. Opened in 1996, Ramathibodi advises and assists with the prevention, diagnosis and management of poisoning.


In Argentina, WHO and partner PANAACEA are supporting caregivers of children with developmental delays and disabilities through the Caregiver Skills Training (CST) programme.

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Gabriel, 7, at his home in Moreno, Argentina, on Dec. 10, 2020. © WHO / Daiana Valencia

Gabriel was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old. At the time, he did not speak or interact, including with his family. As a mother of four and a school teacher, Karina struggled to care for her family and find Gabriel the support he needed.

“When he was little, I tried in many ways, but I couldn’t succeed. I couldn’t find ways to help him express himself, communicate,” Karina said.


This article is part five in a series of explainers on vaccine development and distribution. Part one focused on how vaccines work to protect our bodies from disease-carrying germs. Part two focused on the ingredients in a vaccine and the three clinical trial phases. Part three focused on the steps from completing the clinical trial phases through to distribution. Part four focused on the different types of vaccines. This article outlines the next part of the vaccine journey: fair and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

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As the world continues to fight COVID-19, both alongside each other and in collaboration, many…


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Alta Guajira, Colombia. © PAHO / WHO / Karen González Abril

Universal health coverage (UHC) is an ambitious goal that the world can’t afford to miss. The lessons that countries are currently learning from the COVID-19 pandemic all underscore that investing in health for all is not optional. Stable, equitable, prosperous and peaceful societies and economies are only possible when no one is left behind. This crisis is an opportunity to seize the moment to make changes that benefit both UHC and health security.

The UHC Partnership, one of WHO’s largest initiatives for international cooperation for UHC, supports countries to strengthen the foundations of their health systems to boost their COVID-19…


This article is part four in a series of explainers on vaccine development and distribution. Part one focused on how vaccines work to protect our bodies from disease-carrying germs. Part two focused on the ingredients in a vaccine and the three clinical trial phases. Part three focused on the steps from completing the clinical trial phases through to distribution. This article outlines the different types of vaccines.

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As of December 2020, there are over 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 being developed. Of these, at least 52 candidate vaccines are in human trials. There are several others currently in phase I/II…

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